Health Care Systems

Following allegations of seriously substandard care, the Secretary of State for Health in England announced, in June 2010, that a public inquiry into the Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust would be undertaken, chaired by Robert Francis QC (a lawyer). The “Francis report”, issued in February 2013, contains 290 recommendations meant to apply across the NHS. This, in turn, has given rise to heated debates about quality in the NHS and how best to ensure it.

Professor Adrian Towse, OHE’s Director, joined Professor Sir John Bell and Professor Andrew Morris at the Science Media Centre last week to launch Realising the Potential of Stratified Medicine, a new report by the UK’s Academy of Medical Sciences. Adrian and Professor Lou Garrison, OHE Visiting Senior Research Fellow, were two of a dozen experts who oversaw the preparation of the report.

A new publication from the Office of Health Economics captures the views of thought leaders from around the world about the scientific and economic climate for drug development by 2022. Based on OHE’s 50th anniversary conference, it reflects the perspectives of payers, regulatory and HTA agencies, academia, the non-profit sector and the biopharmaceutical industry.

The Health Economists’ Study Group (HESG) was founded in 1972 to support and promote the work of health economists. Its members are from academic, commercial, and government settings. The purpose of HESG is to transmit knowledge and ideas, ranging from the theoretical to very practical policy issues.

OHE’s participation at the 33rd Meeting of the Spanish Health Economics Association (AES) last week reported the results of four research projects. Jorge Mestre-Ferrandiz, OHE’s Director of Consulting, presented OHE’s recent research on projecting medicines expenditures in the NHS using a bottom-up, rather than a top-down, approach.

In this video, Adrian Towse discusses the challenges and importance of appropriately valuing genomic medicine. He addresses both gene therapies and “pharmacogenomics” -- those medicines that will allow targeted, precision treatment.

Professor Alan Maynard of the University of York, who will speak on Contracting for Quality in the NHS: Putting the Francis Report in Perspective.

Traditionally, decision makers both within and outside the health sector have thought of the value of health interventions primarily in terms of reduced morbidity or mortality. Health care, however, produces wealth effects outside the health care sector—for example, improvement in labour productivity for both patients and caregivers, cost savings in health and social care and other sectors, and an increase in national income.

The 2013 conference of the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) addressed the challenges and opportunities presented by the recent changes in the NHS. Understanding quality, and setting and meeting standards for quality, are essential going forwards. At the conference, OHE’s Adrian Towse reviewed the experiences and concerns that have shaped the approach to quality and identified critical components.

Advances in science and technology are producing more and better means for diagnosing disease, matching patients to the best therapies, and tracking the progress of treatment. The potential impact of using diagnostic and therapeutic tests in tandem with treatment—“co-dependent technologies”—potentially can maximise both treatment effectiveness and economic efficiency.

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